Bucks sign center Meyers Leonard for rest of season: ‘He changed my life.’

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Phoenix – Meyers Leonard grabbed his bag and his guitar and headed to The Milwaukee Bucks bus was leaving the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, on Monday night, wondering aloud whether he was going home to Los Angeles or staying with the team on his way to Phoenix because his second 10 The one-day contract was expiring.

He woke up in Phoenix is ​​still uncertain. But by midday, the answer was that Leonard was not only going to end the road trip, but end the regular season and playoffs as well. The Bucks officially signed the 31-year-old center to a standard contract for the rest of the season on Tuesday before their game against the Suns.

According to a league source, Meyers’ minimum salary would be approximately $1.2 million due to his placement in the luxury tax. They could have waited a while to sign him and save some money, as April 9 is the deadline for players to be eligible for the playoffs, but general manager Jon Horst stepped in to fill his 15th and final guaranteed roster spot. decided to pick up. Now.

“I’ve done my first 10 days and I feel great, they offered me another 10 days and I’m wondering what’s going to happen after that,” he told the Journal Sentinel. Number one team in the league.

“I feel like I’m really well connected throughout the organization, from the players to the (physical training) staff, the front office, even the fans. I always try to stop by after every game in Milwaukee I sign every autograph, take pictures.” Because that’s who I am.

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“I texted John. I’m hoping to talk to (team governor) Mark (Lasserie) at some point, or a little more intimately, I guess, to say thank you. He changed my life. . They really did. It’s going to be hard for me not to be emotional right now. It’s honestly hard to describe this feeling.

Milwaukee Bucks center Meyers Leonard (3) hits a three-point basket during the second half of their game at Fisher Forum on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023 in Milwaukee Wis. The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Miami Heat 128–99.

The Bucks signed the 7-footer to his first 10-day deal on February 22, just after the All-Star break when Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status was uncertain with a sprained right wrist. This was Leonard’s first contract since 2020-21 when he was plagued by multiple injuries And his use of an antisemitic slur on a video game live stream got him kicked out of the game.

“It means a lot for them to believe in me. I’m very grateful,” Leonard reiterated Tuesday. “My wife is. One day I will be able to tell my son that hey, these are the people who believed in me, gave me a second chance. It changed, literally, my life. I love basketball, I do, but he changed my life. And it helped me somehow put this incident behind me.

Leonard has appeared in five games for the Bucks so far and has shown he can still make three-pointers over a stretch, hitting 44% of his shots from behind the three-point line in just seven minutes per game. I can hit.

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“What do the Bucks do, I’m fit,” he said. “I can play drop coverage on the defensive end. I use my voice very well. I try to help direct traffic. On the other end I can set up big screens to get these guys open and I space on the floor. I can be physical in the playoffs. Say they need eight minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes, that’s what counts. Every little bit counts in the playoffs. And so as a basketball player His belief in me makes me feel really good.

Leonard has 28 games of playoff experience in Portland and Miami and was part of the Heat’s NBA Finals team in 2019-20.

“It has always been a small place; Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said, “We have to try and find that true backup five that brings some of the things that Brook brought and the size and the shot-blocking and still be able to make threes.” “It’s a unique position. And sometimes we go down and go in other directions and so the guy might not play as much, but the value is very real, very important to us.

“We think he can help us in the playoff series, the playoff game. We still have 14, 15 games left. John does an amazing job with the roster and I think the fit and need just (be there). We feel really lucky to have Meyers. Since we’ve had him, he’s been phenomenal.

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This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks sign center Meyers Leonard for rest of season